Why a great hoodie is like a loyal friend
Posted on 15 January 2018
Hoodies. So simple and so necessary.
Your hoodie is there when your friends aren’t, it hangs around your hips when no one else will. When you do something really cool and no one’s around to see, there it is. When you’re on the lounge binge watching garbage for the third day in a row, it literally hugs you. You can sleep with it more than three times without things getting complicated. Depending on how big last night was, hoodies make a great shield for your eyes, windows or bathroom mirror.
It soaks in everything you’ve felt, plus radiation from the TV and the occasional splash of instant ramen. A hoodie is a socially acceptable snuggie.
Okay, they’re reliable. But have hoodies always been like this?
Hoodies have really evolved. They’re the utility belt of garments. The Ancient Irish had a gown with sleeves that later on evolved a hood. You have to understand, adding a hood to anything makes it far better. When the Vikings started making chainmail hoods in the 900s, it ended with them plundering half the world.
That’s right, hoodies even came in chainmail. They saved lives and were made totally out of bling like a pendant over your heart. Chainmail hoodies are over 1000 years old, like the Bible or the belief that tights can’t be pants (tights won long ago, guys).
So, the hoodie has been around in some form since forever. What happened next?
- The pouch in the front. Oh, you’ve never had frostbitten fingers? Thanks,
- Eventually, we figured out you can tighten the hood with a cord, and the world’s laziest bow tie was
- Then we decided to add a zipper. The game changed. You can have that old gown design and still keep out the rain. This design actually encourages you to go outside more, because if you lay on the lounge too long with a zipped up hoodie you begin to feel like a body
In the last 10 years, I’ve only gone through three black hoodies, incredible for a garment so essential. Black hoodies are like blazers, they’re made for every occasion. Dance-off, relaxing at home, corner store trip, lunch with in-laws, job interview, burglary. It would be quicker to say what we don’t associate with black hoodies. In this way, a black hoodie is like a high vis vest - if you’re wearing one, people will let you in anywhere.
Hoodies have gone through more phases than an indecisive teen.
As a ‘00s child, I didn’t think much of hoodies. They were a step up from swaddling a baby in blankets. Logically, I thought, a child wearing a hoodie was just trying to get back into the crib. Then I got into rap music and life did a 180.
Seeing them in music videos, loose and dark on a musician, made me want to look like that. We were suburban kids, listening to gangsta rap and looking for trouble in our cartoon shirts and bulky bike helmets that our parents made us wear. We idolised the poor kids down the street whose parents let them have R-rated CDs and pretended they didn’t idolise us back. Living well really killed our vibe.
And hoodies perfected the fantasy. This dangling super-garment was half jumper and half cape. The rappers on TV wore them in the shadows. It was the bridge between our world and theirs - finally, a portal between the suburbs and the streets. Now, we thought with our underdeveloped and overprotected kid brains, we’re gonna live like gangsters.
The 12-year-old me would like you to know that gangster life is exactly the same. The older kids don’t respect you more, your parents still make you eat vegetables and other kids with hoodies don’t invite you to join a neighbourhood crew. There are no wars, I didn’t get my uzi like the songs promised. It’s hard to protect your corner in those new developments where the road just kind of curves.
The worst bit? People barely noticed our hoodies. The local teachers gave me a smile and a compliment, or Mrs Jones across the road would tell me it looked lovely and warm, and nothing more. Well, I wasn’t going to take that disrespect. I’d been dressing myself for like three years. My pants dropped to crotch height, my hats turned sideways, my shoes went unlaced. Every day I rode my bike slow, to show people there was a top dog rolling down their street and also to be careful that my laces didn’t get caught in my bike chain.
People learned respect after that. It may be because I did well in school and made funny jokes, but still I dressed like one of the rappers on TV and people respected me. I had my hoodie and the life I wanted.
These days, I enjoy writing for websites and underground performance art gigs. Both those things have safe, supportive communities who want everyone to get by okay. My aspirations and heroes have turned inside out again, but still, here I am in a black hoodie. Hoodies signify the rhyme-spitters of the ‘00s in badly lit music videos and also well-off housewives on the way to yoga. You could be about to climb a cliff or scramble over Rome Season 2 on your lounge, gradually covering that cool Julius Caesar design with corn chip crumbs. You can get them in the colours of your gang or your uni.
So next time you’re feeling lonesome, remember that a hoodie is the most dependable friend. They don’t get judgy about your rap phase. You can literally drop mustard on them and they don’t care. They’ll make you look like a badass, but also someone people want to know. At some point you’ve realised there’s no towel in the bathroom and secretly used them instead. They stick by you. They’re basically dogs.